House passes check on Internet transition, multiple DHS measures


House passes check on Internet transition, multiple DHS measures

The plan to transition a key Internet architecture function out of federal control will get a modest check by Congress if the Dotcom Act is passed into law. The bill cleared one hurdle on June 23, passing the House of Representatives by a vote of 378-25.

The bill would give Congress 30 legislative days to review any proposal to devolve the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority contract to a new organization proposed by international stakeholders acting under the auspices of the non-profit Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers.

The IANA function is essentially the address book of the Internet, mapping numerical nodes to web addresses. Many have concerns that if the U.S. doesn't handle this key function, the basic architecture of the global Internet could become subject to governance by countries without strong traditions of freedom of expression, or by the International Telecommunication Agency at the United Nations. The bill also requires the National Telecommunications and Information Agency to extend the current IANA contract while deliberations continue -- something that was expected to happen with or without legislation.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.), said the review period gives Congress a chance to consult with experts on a proposed transition scheme. "If... we find that ICANN and/or its proposals [don't] adequately protect the free and open Internet, Congress can then take action to either completely stop the transfer or require more safeguards be put in place," Shimkus said on the House floor. "We get one bite at the apple on this and we have to make sure it's done correctly."

DHS updates

The House also passed a slate of measures designed to improve management and operations at the Department of Homeland Security:

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is FCW's senior staff writer, and covers Congress, health IT and governmentwide IT policy. Connect with him on Twitter: @thisismaz.